Evil agent Moriarty twirls his crepe moustache and fondles the latex chin, after this review of GOOD WILL HUNTING. It is actually in theaters, but only in LA & NY I believe, which leaves the rest of us without a clue. I do know Siskel and Ebert liked it, but are they geeks? Probably, let's see if Ebert can figure out the referenced spy identity on the Jackie Brown review page!!! Anyway my money is on Moriarty, even if he did not like Starship Troopers. And boy did he hate it. Man, I reall... ahhhh forget it. Here's GOOD WILL HUNTING...
"Hey, Harry, Moriarty here. It's one of those days when it's good to live in LA, as the new Gus Van Sant film GOOD WILL HUNTING opened here today in limited release. I rounded up a couple of buddies and headed over to the Beverly Connection for the first show. As a Writer's Guild member, I got my first Christmas present of the year, since I didn't have to pay for a ticket, using my Guild card as a pass instead. God, I love this time of year.
"I'd heard quite a bit about the backstory for GOOD WILL HUNTING before going into the theater -- the whole thing about Damon and Affleck being friends since childhood, the original sale of the script to Castle Rock, the last minute move to Miramax -- but I'd heard surprisingly little about the film itself. To tell you the truth, I'm glad, because I was able to just react to the film without having had a ton of hype crammed down my throat.
"This is a remarkable picture, easily one of the year's best. Matt Damon is given so much more room here to shine than he was in THE RAINMAKER, and he makes the most of it. When you're an actor writing yourself a lead role, the temptation would be to make it all fireworks. Not so with this film, though. Both Damon and Ben Affleck give subtle, grounded performances that feel very real. Stellan Skarsgard, who was so amazing in last year's best film (BREAKING THE WAVES), is rocksolid as the professor who discovers the extraordinary abilities of Will Hunting, but it's Robin Williams who walks away with the movie. He's never been this good, and I'm a fan of his dramatic work over the years. This is the performance that finally brings it all together perfectly. As Robin gets older, that big giant rubber balloon head of his manages to get better and better at conveying a wellspring of sadness. In this film, Van Sant taps that sadness expertly. Robin has also learned a generosity as an actor, where he's not afraid to give the scene to someone else. There's work between him and Damon that is just jawdropping, one scene on a bench by a pond standing out as a particular highlight. The chemistry between the two of them is magnetic. Their scenes are like a dance, performed expertly by both parties.
"That's not to say that any of the work here shows. That's part of the film's potent charm -- it makes it all look effortless. The screenplay has a gradual, intelligent structure that takes its time establishing character and situation. The payoffs are smaller and more sincere than they would be in the major studio version of this film. For the first time in his career, Van Sant is invisible as a filmmaker, simply getting out of the way of the story and his performers. The film is richer for it, too.
"Congratulations are due to both Damon and Affleck for creating a vanity piece that somehow manages to also be a sincerely affecting film experience, one I would recommend to anyone. When you get tired of being disappointed by dreck like MORTAL KOMBAT, THE JACKAL, or (sorry, Harry) STARSHIP TROOPERS, then check this picture out. It's enough to reaffirm your faith in the cinema. I know it did mine."